Chapel Hill “Summer’s Gone” Tour Report

Econo Lodge, South Hill, Virginia. 3:05 a.m. Pointed the Rent-an-Escape north on I-85 about a 30 minutes after the show. With some 500 miles to cover before Tuesday night, I was anxious to make progress. I made it about 75 miles shy of Richmond before the adrenaline wore off.

So after a few hours of sleep in my $49.95 “Manager’s Special” (should I be concerned hat the night attendant was watching “The Shining” when I checked in?), I knock out Richmond, D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and into New York. See, you gotta’ break down every long race into little races, just like the marathon. One step at a time.

Chapel Hill was good people. The performance space was funky and cool. It actually looked like a cave, all be it one with Christmas lights and Folgers cans hanging from the ceiling. The folks at the venue were great. Real music fans, real appreciative, real helpful. The randoms who just happened to be there were cool, listening politely, clapping generously.

And all of my new friends from the South: Jyl, Jessica, Sean, Brian, Rebecca, Jessica, Chrissie, Lisa (plus her family) all came down and rocked out. I’ve gotten so comfortable with these shows that I walked in, shook hands with the bartender, sound checked and got started straight away. I didn’t write a set list for perhaps the first time in 8 or 10 years. I just rolled along from song to song trying to manage the ebb and flow and mix up the strumming and the barre chords, the Gs and Es.

And I took song ideas from the audience. Brian suggested “Message in a Bottle” and “Debris,” neither of which would I have normally done, but did. And Jyl wanted “Go Back to Sleep,” so got it. I played for nearly two hours, had an RC, took an after party photo, and headed out.

Thinking back as the South rolled away behind me, I’m still not sure what to make of this whole tour. It had its failures. It was difficult. And rewarding.

Everyone’s kind words, support, smiles, and singing along, made this whole thing — all these miles and dollars and hotel beds and bad fast food — worth it. It was like life: hours of drudgery punctuated by flashes of light and joy. My final assessment is pending, but this much I know: the journey has been the destination. And getting there takes all the time.

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